WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s partner has said that a decision to extradite him to the United States would be “politically and legally disastrous for the UK”, on the day of the judge’s ruling. Stella Moris, who has two children with Assange, said a decision to allow extradition would not only be an “unthinkable travesty” for her partner but would damage cherished British freedoms.
United Kingdom district judge will deliver on Monday her verdict on whether Julian Assange can be extradited to the United States, where he could face up to 175 years in jail for the publication of classified information on the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as thousands of US diplomatic cables between 2010 and 2011. His extradition trial ended at London's Old Bailey court on October 1 after his defense team spent four weeks has been trying to prove Assange's innocence and that he was being indicted for political reasons.
“It would rewrite the rules of what it is permissible to publish here. Overnight, it would chill free and open debate about abuses by our own government and by many foreign ones, too," Moris said on Sunday as per The Guardian.
She added, "In effect, foreign countries could simply issue an extradition request saying that UK journalists, or Facebook users for that matter, have violated their censorship laws. The press freedoms we cherish in Britain are meaningless if they can be criminalised and suppressed by regimes in Russia or Ankara or by prosecutors in Alexandria, Virginia.”
The US Department of Justice is seeking extradition of Assange on 17 espionage charges and on one count of computer misuse, which carries a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison.
Assange's extradition hearing began on September 7, and he attended four weeks at London's Central Criminal Court in September. The judge overseeing the case said she would deliver her decision on January 4 next year.
Assange has been held in a UK maximum security prison since he was arrested at the Ecuadorean embassy in London in April 2019, and sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for jumping bail back in 2012. Although he served the whole sentence a long time ago, the UK court has refused to release him until the extradition case is over.